Kenya, Somalia Form Team to Ease Tensions

President Uhuru Kenyatta with his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo after the National Prayer Breakfast at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi (file photo).

Kenya and Somalia have agreed to resolve tensions between the two countries by appointing respective teams to solve the issues.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo agreed in a phone conversation to appoint committees to look into several matters including border security.

Tensions between Nairobi and Mogadishu simmered Monday after heavy fighting broke out between Somalia's forces and militia allied to a fugitive regional security minister near the Mandera border.

On Wednesday, President Kenyatta accused Somalia of "flagrant breach" of Kenya's territorial integrity.

In the latest step in their strained relations, the President, who chaired a National Security Council meeting, said he had noted Somalia's National Army soldiers had fought on Kenyan land, causing tension and harassing residents of Mandera.

The President's spokesperson, Kanze Dena-Moraro, stopped short of saying Kenya had been invaded by foreign soldiers, but accused Somalia of breaching international law on military battles.

She spoke as Somalia troops were seen near Mandera on Wednesday, signalling a continued fluid security situation following Monday's fighting between two military forces belonging to the national government and the federal state of Jubbaland, near the Kenyan border town.

Jubbaland forces and the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) fought on Monday, with the effects spilling over to Mandera town.

"The foreign soldiers, in flagrant breach and total disregard of international laws and conventions, engaged in aggressive and belligerent activities by harassing and destroying properties of Kenyan citizens living in the border town of Mandera," Ms Dena-Moraro said last evening.

"This action amounts to an unwarranted attack by foreign soldiers with the intention of provoking Kenya. In keeping with our long-standing and distinguished tradition in peace keeping and peace building in the region and beyond and in particular in Somalia, Kenya acted with total restraint," she said.

But the meeting by the country's top security policy team, which was called to discuss the simmering differences with Somalia, did not address the key issue Somalia has accused Kenya of: That it was hosting a fugitive known as Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur "Janaan", a former Jubbaland minister accused of fleeing jail in Mogadishu.

Somalia's Ambassador to the UN Abukar Dahir Osman accused Kenya of violating Somali territory. Mr Osman was not specific, but referred to Kenyan authorities aiding Janaan, and supporting Jubbaland troops.

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